Spared or Spoiled Movie Reviews: Nocturnal Animals (or the ANTI-La La Land)

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

And Amy…


“I’ll be okay. I’m used to it by now. At least Mel still loves me.”

And Amy Adams gets robbed of a nomination by an Academy of numbskulls!!

Nocturnal Animals (Focus Features)


Written & Directed by Tom Ford

Based on the novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright

Starring Amy AdamsJake GyllenhaalMichael ShannonAaron Taylor-JohnsonIsla FisherArmie HammerLaura LinneyAndrea Riseborough & Michael Sheen

Nocturnal Animals feels like a 70’s thriller or some early 80’s Brian DePalma suspense shit, except without the suspense. The only thrills in the movie happen in the book. Not the book of the movie but the book inside the movie, which is way better than the real-life story. Amy Adams (winner for best actress on this blog) plays Susan Morrow, a gallery owner whose life is boring as hell. Her life is awful and so is this part of the movie. But she receives a manuscript from her ex-husband of his new novel. It’s good. It’s very good. It’s better than her life. The book is dramatized in the movie and those parts are better than the rest of the movie. They’re supposed to be. That’s the point.


“I don’t know what the big deal is. I NEVER get nominated.”

But watching Nocturnal Animals so soon after seeing La La Land forced me to compare them because both films are about young artists in a romance. The one in this movie is told in flashbacks, adding a third running narrative to the film. And again it’s better than the main story. So even though I like Nocturnal Animals, this is one of those movies that I have to spoil to talk about it. But as an added bonus, I’m also going to spoil La La Land in the process. So this is a combination Spared/Spoiled/Film Comparison in one.

Verdict: SPOILED (for being too interesting): Nocturnal Animals


Verdict: SPOILED (by association): La La Land

I’m spoiling everything tonight.

Nocturnal Animals Amy Adams

“Spoil them… Spoil them all… Spoil everything… Spoil them all to hell.”

SPOILER ALERT (for both Nocturnal Animals and La La Land)


First of all, she absolutely becomes her mother. Just like everyone says she would (including her mother). And I also liked the ending. It was poetic. I think I was waiting for the suspense to bleed over from the novel into the real world. And it never did. But Amy Adams is excellent as always. Jake Gyllenhaal is at his regular efficient automatic perfection. Seriously that guy pisses me off with how precise he is. I bet you every take is exactly the same with him. He’s a freaking robot.


“You shut your filthy mouth. The Academy is full of geniuses and saints. Saints, I tell ya!”

Armie Hammer plays the same character in every movie. So he plays that same character again here. The man just looks like a douche. Surprise!! He’s a douche. And Michael Shannon gives a fine performance. I would talk about his nomination but frankly those fools don’t know shit. So it’s not much of an honor. But I liked it. Nocturnal Animals grew on me as the back story got interesting and the fictional story got interesting and I waited for the present story to get interesting and it never did. And that was the point. And I got it. And I liked it. So as Amy Adams is waiting there in the restaurant hoping to rekindle something with the guy who is now successful and he doesn’t show up. And that brilliant awkward last scene drags on, I was digging it. It reminded me of some Neil LaBute revenge porn (that guy’s got serious problems).


“Oh Academy. You’re breaking my heart. But then again you break everyone’s heart.”

And every review I (actually) read seems to think that the characters of the wife and daughter in the novel represent her. But I don’t think so. I think she reads that into the story to make her boring existence seem worth a few pages. If anything she’s the three criminals. But yeah he makes himself the lead, weak and powerless to defend his wife and child in the story and she sees him as weak in the back story, but by standing her up in the end, he proves that he isn’t the weak romantic writer that she can manipulate. And his book is better than her life even though everybody dies in it (seriously it’s like some Shakespearean shit. Everyone dies at the end). So I guess he wins… at life.


“I win at life!!! I win at… oops.”

Then of course, I imagined the ending of La La Land with only one of them being successful and not the other. (much less of a fairy tale). Because at the end of La La Land both the lovers are wildly successful and exactly where they want to be in life (like the most rags-to-riches depression era musical bull-shit) and it’s mostly due to the push each gives the other. You can say they sacrifice their love and life together for the other’s career and it works well for both.


“Mel Rook & the 7 Deadly… nope. Life’s too short. What’s on YouTube? PUPPIES!!!”

Nocturnal Animals isn’t as sweet as all that. While in La La Land they inspire each other with tough love and support, in Nocturnal Animals, she inspires him with betrayal and he inspires her with revenge. It is… a lot more realistic (and nobody sings).  Emma Stone ends up married with a successful career and no guilt about leaving her first real love (and an Oscar nomination). While Amy Adams ends up married to a cheater with a failing gallery and guilt over how she betrayed her first love (and no nomination for her work in Arrival). It’s not fair (but then again Trump is in power and fair is a fairy tale).

Ryan Gosling and Jake Gyllenhaal both get what they want so fuck ’em.


“Trump is the what now? You shitting me? Woo hoo. We got ourselves a white male president.”

Nocturnal Animals is almost too atmospheric at times in the main story. There are a couple of good laughs from her silly artsy friends and co-workers. Especially when she blatantly insults the woman who had too much work done on her face. That was hysterical. Her artwork is awful. Her life is awful. Her husband is cheating. They are hemorrhaging money and her ex-husband writes this kick-ass book. That’s some potent revenge porn. Seriously, Neil LaBute must love this film.


“Operator. I’d like the number for a Neil LaBute please. Misogynist? Yes I’ll hold.”

But if she hadn’t broken his heart would he have been able to write his great American novel? Nocturnal Animals is a good story. But at times I thought it left a little too much on the table. Too atmospheric. Too strange. Too stylish. With wooden performances. Even though that was the point to make the novel more vibrant and more real than life. But because of it, it’s easy to separate the two and think that Nocturnal Animals is a movie about a boring woman reading a book, in the bed, in the tub, looking sexy… but still just reading. And then think the book in the movie is a better movie than the movie. But Nocturnal Animals is good. And it’s definitely worth a look if you’re like me and dated an artist who broke your heart. Or dated someone who didn’t believe in you. Because Nocturnal Animals is usually what you get. La La Land is the fantasy.


“I just read Mel’s blog… I must go to him.” Now THAT’S the fantasy.

In conclusion, Nocturnal Animals is the ANTI-La La Land and I’m glad, because after the Oscar nominations I needed a sober dose of anti-romanticism. And Amy Adams, my love, I’m so sorry, but you got stood up again.

– Mel


Spared or Spoiled Movie Reviews: La La Land

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

La La Land (Summit Entertainment)


Written & Directed by Damien Chazelle

Music by Justin Hurwitz

Choreography by Mandy Moore

Starring Ryan GoslingEmma StoneJohn Legend & Rosemarie DeWitt

La La Land is a straight-forward musical romance that is not as good as people are making it out to be, but much better than it actually should be. It is excruciatingly cute and cuddly and smile-inducing. I nearly hurt my face smiling so much. The choreography is whimsical and the songs are passable. But the ending… the ending is sensational. Go see La La Land before the bloom is off the rose.

Verdict: SPARED


I really liked La La Land. I think I smiled all the way through from the 2nd musical number until I started crying at the end. It is your very basic boy meets girl yada yada yada story. And because there is not much to it, besides your basic romance formula, it made me wonder what people were seeing in it. Seriously, why so much hype?


But I’ll tell you what I think they were seeing… Emma Stone’s amazingly graceful dancing. Ryan Gosling’s surprisingly good singing. And two incredible performances. But mostly the second film in a row that Damien Chazelle has knocked it out the bloody park. Whiplash was fabulous. And La La Land continues the string.


Ryan Gosling is surprisingly good in La La Land. I have never been a fan of his. Here he plays a Jazz Pianist who refuses to sell out his art for the money (or success for that matter). His character is a frustrating look at the artistic purist.


And Emma Stone… She gets better with every role she takes. Here her dancing is the primary element. Her movements are sublime. I hope she dances in everything. She’s always had this commanding stage presence but who knew she could move like an angel. And glide like a… totally different angel. She plays an aspiring actress and writer who gets no respect at auditions and in her day job on the Warner Brothers lot.


These two, young artists, start an on-screen romance. And there’s not much else in terms of plot. La La Land is pretty straight forward. Romance, relationship, conflict, resolution. But the ending is magical. I cried. I won’t tell you what kind of tears for those of you who haven’t seen it. But they were very salty.


La La Land brings to mind Woody Allen at his early 80’s romantic best. Billy Wilder in his 1950’s funniest. And Old Hollywood at its late 20’s musical finest. And I would be surprised if it isn’t on Broadway in about 10 years. Even though the music isn’t the best part, La La Land would still make a good Broadway show. Because of the dancing. The choreography is outstanding. And like I said before, Emma Stone glides across the screen making us fall in love with each angelic step.


La La Land doesn’t completely live up to the hype. I still don’t see the big deal. It’s a rehash of the depression era musical. A great escape from these degenerate times. But I loved it. It’s fun and magical and romantic. And I enjoyed it profusely.

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Reviews: Irrational Man

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

Irrational Man (Sony Pictures Classics)


Written & Directed by Woody Allen

Starring Joaquin PhoenixEmma StoneParker Posey & Jamie Blackley

Woody Allen syndrome (Formerly Kevin Smith syndrome [Formerly Roger Corman disease]) Also known as the attack of the lazy film-maker. The act of phoning it in because your early work has earned you many loyal fans. Fans who will see every piece of shit movie you release. When a director’s fan base ruins their creativity. Forces them into a comfort zone out of which they never have to venture because the base is large enough to support making the same garbage again and again. The moment I lose respect for my heroes.

Verdict: SPOILED

Irrational Man

“Whoa that’s harsh. Even for Mel.” “He kind of has a point.”


Irrational Man is not a good movie. It’s the same old thing from Woody Allen. His movies are about people behaving badly or about May-December romances or some philosophy lesson. Irrational Man is about a philosophy professor who gets into a romance with a young student and then commits the perfect murder. We’ve all seen this one before from Woody Allen. He’s been running over the same old ground for a while.

Irrational Man 2

“Isn’t this the same picture but cropped.” “I think he’s making a point.”

I’ve seen this review before. Every year there’s a new Woody Allen film and I say the same thing. Blah blah blah. I used to be a big fan. Blah blah blah. I don’t judge him by his personal life but by his work. Blah blah blah. His work hasn’t been good for a long time because he never takes chances. He puts himself on the screen and calls it courage. But we already know him. He’s an old man who likes young girls, wants to kill someone and get away with it (I’m not gonna say who) and thinks his knowledge of European philosophers qualifies him to comment on other people’s lives.

Joaquin Phoenix and Parker Posey

“Hi.” “Hello.” “What’s your name?” “I’m age-appropriate.” “What a beautiful name. I’m Woody.”

So this is a pattern of shitty work from me and him. Yet every four years or so he comes up with something mildly good. Or gets a wonderful performance out of an actor. Or finds that old Woody Allen that’s been buried under the personal baggage, psychological issues and old age. But Irrational Man is not one of those films. It’s a film made for his fans. The folks that see all his films no matter how bad. I watched this happen with Kevin Smith. He had enough die-hard fans to justify his crappy work. Like Kevin, Woody can just do different versions of Clerks for the rest of his career.

Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix

“Is this supposed to be creepy?” “No. I think Woody is trying to desensitize us.”

Irrational Man stars Woody’s latest muse, Emma Stone. She’s lovely and her acting style and cadence is perfect for Allen’s words. Joaquin Phoenix is great here but he’s great in everything. There was a time, when he was still good at his job, when I would remark how every character and every actor in a Woody Allen film sounded like him. But these days he finds these actors fully formed. Scarlett Johansson, Emma Stone. They already sound like him. And this is all he has to do for the rest of his career.

Irrational Man Cast

“Remember what me and your mom always told you.” “I know.” “You can do anything if you put your mind to it. Now dry those tears.” “Thanks dad.”

Irrational Man is a collection of scenes from other Woody Allen movies stitched together to form something new this year. Every year he does the same thing. Woody keeps churning out films like a zombie. He’s a zombie director.The mind is dead but the body is still technically still alive.

– Mel

5 Quick Reviews of 5 (Recently) Bad Movies on DVD

This is my 5 Quick Reviews of 5 Bad Movies on DVD and Home Video. You see, I haven’t completely retired the 5 Quick Reviews format. I save it for special occasions. But these aren’t reviews so much as me ranting about how bad these movies are. I’ve seen bad movies. I’ve seen a lot of bad movies. I skip reviewing most of them because I don’t even want to write about them. Or they’re just not worth their own posts.

MI5 takedown

“Who’s not worth their own post?” “Not you. He didn’t mean you.” “That’s right.”

These are five movies I saw recently that weren’t worth a post but I thought I’d mention them here just in case you were on the fence about seeing them. I’m here to talk you out of it. I’m here to talk you off the damn fence. These movies suck.

Pixels Review 2In every single one of these cases, I knew I was about to see a bad movie before I watched it. But for some reason I did it anyway. Like reading the warning as if it were the instructions. Like the word POISON was put on the bottle as a challenge or a dare.

"Hey. Hey. The dumb guys are here. Bring on the bad movies."

“Hey. Hey. The dumb guys are here. Bring on the bad movies.”

But in two of these cases, I just couldn’t do it. I’m getting older and don’t have the time to waste on these things like I used to. But I sat through three of them.

“I have been to the bleeding edge of boredom & disgust and come back. Listen to me.”

To the reviews…

Aloha (Columbia Pictures)

Aloha poster

Written & Directed by Cameron Crowe

Starring Bradley CooperEmma StoneRachel McAdamsBill MurrayJohn KrasinskiDanny McBride & Alec Baldwin

Aloha, um… is terrible. I don’t know about the controversy with Emma Stone playing a character that’s one-quarter Hawaiian. I was more troubled that she was a quarter Hawaiian and a quarter Chinese. That was a stretch. If it was just one quarter Hawaiian and three quarters plain ole white girl, I’m good. But Chinese and Hawaiian… no. Although mostly I was bothered because, in this movie at least, she’s really bad. Bad acting.

Emma Stone in Aloha

“But I thought you were a fan. (sob) Didn’t you want me to win the Oscar?”

And I was a fan. I wanted her to win the Oscar last year for Birdman (that was last year right?). But whatever. It’s all bad. Aloha is bad in almost every way. Except for one… The last scene in the movie is outstanding. Had me weeping. Honestly. So if you can make it that far, (It’s a really really bad movie), that last scene is very cool. last scene right before the credits.


“Is he allowed to like something about the movie?” “Hey, I don’t know. This is new for me. I’m usually in good movies.” “That’s so nice for you. I was in Spider-man and he hated that shit.”

You know what. I’ll tell you guys about the scene so you don’t have to watch it. Bradley spends the whole movie wondering if his ex-girlfriend’s daughter is his. The two give each other knowing looks. Everybody pretty much knows but not really. And then he finds out and the regular movie is over but there’s this throwaway scene before the credits where he’s watching her through the glass outside his daughter’s dance class and she spots him looking and then she starts crying while she tries to keep dancing and he starts crying and there are no words. And it’s beautiful. I wish it were in a different movie. But other than that the movie’s not worth the time or electricity it uses to watch it. For every reason you can think, it is horrible. I’m not even going to waste my time listing them all.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (Paramount Pictures)

MI5 Poster

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie

Written by Christopher McQuarrie & Drew Pearce  Based on Mission: Impossible by Bruce Geller

Starring Tom CruiseJeremy RennerSimon PeggRebecca FergusonVing RhamesSean Harris & Alec Baldwin

Mission Impossible is a rehash of all the other MI films. This one would be MI:5 (and now you see why they abandoned that format) Rogue Nation offers nothing more than a new hot girl agent. There’s always a new hot girl agent. It’s formulaic and it’s boring. It’s an action film with chases and fights and shootouts and so-called excitement. But having seen it all before. It has become a paint-by-numbers spectacle of boredom.


“Should I shoot him?” “He’s right.” “I know. But should I shoot him?” “It’s not worth it.”

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is a waste of time and money. If you’ve seen one, you’ve see them all. Just close your eyes and take a couple of minutes to remember what it was like watching any of the other films in the Mission Impossible franchise. Any.

Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation

“Should we shoot him?” “I don’t know. I was in Avengers. He likes me.” “I was in Edge of Tomorrow and Minority Report and…” “I get it. You’re Tom Cruise. So I guess we shouldn’t shoot him.” “No. The movie is bad. But let’s keep pointing our guns. It looks cool.”

Now open your eyes. Remember all of those chases and shootouts? I’ve just saved you two hours of annoying eye strain and endless familiarity… and Tom Cruise. You’re welcome. Now go put those two extra hours to good use.

Self/Less (Focus Features)

Self-Less poster

Directed by Tarsem Singh

Written by David Pastor & Àlex Pastor

Starring Ryan ReynoldsNatalie MartinezMatthew GoodeVictor GarberDerek Luke & Ben Kingsley

Self/Less is nothing special. In fact it’s a great big load of humdrum. It doesn’t feel like a Tarsem Singh movie at all. It isn’t visually stunning or even mildly interesting. Did he do this movie as a dare? Is he late on his boat payment? What the hell happened?

Ryan Reynolds in Self-Less

“So I guess we’re pointing guns now?” “Shut up. I was in Green Lantern. I’m no Tom Cruise. This is all I got.” ” Aren’t you in Deadpool?” “Oh yeah. Right. Thanks for reminding me. Sorry about the gun.” “No problem.”

I’m not really a big fan of Tarsem Singh, but at least I was able to say that his movies are works of art, if not particularly good cinema. They are gorgeous to look at. This is just bland.


Sir Ben Kingsley is barely in the movie. And this mirror thing where Ryan’s on one side and Ben is on the other, never happens. Would have been much cooler if it had.

Self/Less is a movie about body swapping and trying to live forever but the body swapping technology isn’t explained enough for even the least attentive to detail, mild science fiction fan. Self/Less is a waste of time. There’s nothing of value here. Move along.


And here at the end we have two movies that I couldn’t get through. I couldn’t do it. I can usually find something redeeming about a film that keeps me watching, but with these next two I just couldn’t. I just couldn’t watch.

Dragon Blade (Intercontinental Film Distributors)


Written & Directed by Daniel Lee

Starring Jackie ChanJohn CusackAdrien Brody & Lin Peng

Okay I barely lasted five minutes here. I couldn’t watch Dragon Blade more than five minutes. But you’ve got to understand, this was a special case. Dragon Blade took five minutes away from my life. It was five whole minutes before I realized I was going to be yelling at my screen for the entire running time and it would have left me in a very bad mood. Five whole minutes.

Jackie Chan in Dragon Blade

“Five minutes? I was shooting this movie for five months. You got off easy.”

Full disclosure. Two of those minutes were the distributor and production company logos and the opening titles and credits. But three minutes after that I easily recognized Dragon Blade would be the worse movie I would ever see. Simply judging from the bad acting (in two languages) and the stupid story. So I spared myself Dragon Blade. And I’ve thanked me ever since. I wake up in the morning and think of this movie and say, “Well done, Mel. You really dodged a bullet on that one.”

Pixels (Columbia Pictures)

Pixels poster

Directed by Chris Columbus

Written by Tim Herlihy & Timothy Dowling  Based on Pixels by Patrick Jean

Starring Adam SandlerKevin JamesMichelle MonaghanPeter DinklageJosh GadBrian CoxAshley Benson & Jane Krakowski

Pixels is a stupid movie. This is some stupid crap. I got about 15 minutes in and thought to myself, “This is a dumb guy movie.” Adam Sandler is cornering the dumb guy market at this moment in history. And the main attribute of dumb guy cinema is that it not only doesn’t have to be good or make any sense, but it makes more money, if it isn’t good and doesn’t make sense. Dumb guy want dumb movie. 

Pixels Review

Videogame console players. Alien invasion. Sounds like a cool idea. But Pixels is some stupid crap. Kevin James plays the president. (It’s that stupid) But you know what? Even dumb guys need to be entertained. So may I suggest jingling keys instead of this movie. Honestly. Jingling keys has more substance than this thing.

So to recap…

These movies are bad. Don’t waste your time.

Happy New Year,

– Mel

11 Quick Reviews of 11 Movies on Home Video (Bad Movies Edition)

I’m back.

Sorry about the long absence. But I’m having an incredibly bad summer.

Mel's Back

For one thing I’m in a funk that I can’t seem to pull myself out of… If you have any funk beating advice please help. But here are some reviews of what I’ve watched at home… in my funk. It’s a double sized 5 Quick Reviews (plus one more). So that’s…

11 Quick Reviews of 11 Movies on Home Video (Bad Movies Edition)

I saw eight bad movies and maybe three kind of good ones. Told you I’m having a bad summer. Here is what I’ve watched as far as DVD’s and home video. And again It’s pretty bad. You’ve been warned. But I hold them all to quick reviews and there are no spoilers.

These movies aren’t worth spoiling.

To the reviews..

The Gunman (Open Road Films)


Directed by Pierre Morel

Written by Don MacphersonPete Travis & Sean Penn  Based on  The Prone Gunman (Original french title La position du tireur couché) by Jean-Patrick Manchette

Starring  Sean Penn, Javier BardemIdris ElbaMark RylanceJasmine TrincaPeter Franzén & Ray Winstone

There is no plot except clichés and preaching. The Gunman serves three purposes:

1) To show off Sean Penn’s internationally renown body.

2) To repeat International Spy Thriller clichés ad nauseam.

3) To point out some international atrocities happening somewhere in the world where somebody is getting the short end of the stick.

Idris Alba and Sean Penn

After watching the movie I still don’t know where these atrocities are actually happening in the world because The Gunman is a massive international failure.

Skip it. (not even Idris Alba can save it)

Slow West (A24 Films [US], Lionsgate UK [UK])

Slow West Poster

Written & Directed by John Maclean

Starring Michael FassbenderKodi Smit-McPheeBen MendelsohnCaren Pistorius & Rory McCann

While there is a lot to like about Slow West; Fassbender is still his Fassbendery gorgeous self, at times it feels like a David Lynch western and more of a stage play than a western (these are the things I liked?), Slow West is just too silly. It takes itself far too seriously while at the same time being far too silly. Make up your mind.


You know another thing that bothered me about Slow West. It’s too clean. Everything is so clean. For a frontier American Western these guys seem to know very little about the American West. Everything is so clean. And it’s all so pointless and hapless and feckless. It’s like Martin Scorsese’s After Hours in the American West. But it’s nowhere near as good as that sounds. Slow West is a feckless western.

Skip it. (Maybe it’s worth a look if you like that sort of thing)

Run All Night (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Run All Night

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

Written by Brad Ingelsby

Starring Liam NeesonJoel KinnamanCommon & Ed Harris

I liked the cool transitions between the scenes. They were very creative. Everything else is just a cookie cutter ex-mob hit-man thriller with Liam Neeson trying to protect his son from Ed Harris as a mob boss but without the thrills. I swear I’ve seen this movie before. No surprises. No thrills. Nothing to see except the really cool transitions between scenes.


Run All Night is extremely dull for an action movie.

Skip it. (And Common’s hit-man character is dumb)

Son of a Gun (A24)

Son of a Gun

Written & Directed by Julius Avery

Starring Ewan McGregorBrenton ThwaitesAlicia VikanderJacek KomanMatt Nable & Tom Budge

This one starts off pretty cool. Son of a Gun starts as a prison movie but then shifts to a lower gear when it becomes some kind of heist movie. I really liked the first act but that’s it. And Alicia Vikander (from Ex-Machina) is underutilized here. Turns out the girl can act.


But in the end the movie ain’t that great.

Skip it. (Unless you just have to see Alicia Vikander. She is marvelous)

The Voices (Lions Gate Entertainment)


Directed by Marjane Satrapi

Written by Michael R. Perry

Starring Ryan ReynoldsGemma ArtertonAnna Kendrick & Jacki Weaver

At first glance, The Voices really angered me with its portrayal of mental illness, but then when I realized that it was all from the POV of the twisted schizophrenic serial killer and nothing we see can be believed, I really warmed up to it. It was still god awful but it no longer angered me. It was just plain awful.

The Voices Movie

Ryan Reynolds plays a horrible schizophrenic man-boy who talks to his pets; a dog and a cat who behave like the devil and angel on his shoulders. But it’s all bullshit because he’s completely bat-shit and when the veil is lifted his reality is pretty shit. I’m talking like ultra-dark Terry Gilliam shit… but then again so is the movie.

Gemma Atherton and Ryan Reynolds in The Voices

The Voices is just awful as it tries to find a safe place between grotesquely macabre and whimsically and darkly comedic. It fails in this. It fails miserably. That struggle is represented perfectly by the silly musical number that serves as the film’s end title sequence. Complete with all the victims, Jesus (who was not in the movie up to that point), our boy and his pets singing a happy song. Enormously stupid… just awful.

Skip it. (It is disturbingly cheesy and cheesily disturbing)

The Divergent Series: Insurgent (Summit Entertainment, Lionsgate)

Insurgent movie poster

Directed by Robert Schwentke

Written by Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman & Mark Bomback  Based on Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Starring Shailene WoodleyTheo JamesOctavia SpencerJai CourtneyRay StevensonZoë KravitzMiles TellerAnsel ElgortMaggie QNaomi Watts & Kate Winslet

Horrible. Insurgent picks up where the first movie left off and if you remember the first movie; Divergent, it started well but ended like crap.


Well this one starts like crap, stays crap and ends like crap. There is nothing good about Insurgent. So basically it’s all crap.

Skip it. (No more of these. Please stop it)

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (Warner Home Video)

Throne of Atlantis

Directed by Ethan Spaulding

Written by Heath Corson  Based on Throne of Atlantis by Geoff Johns

Starring Matt LanterSam WitwerSumalee MontanoSirena IrwinJason O’MaraShemar MooreJerry O’ConnellChristopher GorhamRosario DawsonNathan FillionSean AstinHarry LennixGeorge Newbern, Melique Berger & Steven Blum

Better than Justice league: War, Throne of Atlantis picks up where War left off, with the formation of a new superhero team. But Throne of Atlantis mainly deals with Aquaman. His origin story and how he joins the league. It’s a decent story and a good little movie. It suffers from some of the whimsy that plagued War, but it’s toned down a bit.


Shazam is still annoying as is Green lantern but now as a part of a much bigger team they’re just a small part of the story. So because it wasn’t that annoying Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is the best home video release I’ve seen this summer so far.

Rent it. (Woo Hoo!!! We got one)

Kung Fu Jungle previously known as Kung Fu Killer (Emperor Motion Pictures)

Kung Fu Killer

Directed by Teddy Chan

Written by Lau Ho-leung, Mak Tin-sau and Teddy Chan

Starring Donnie YenWang BaoqiangCharlie Young & Michelle Bai

A run of the mill thriller about a serial killer targeting the best martial artists, Kung Fu Killer (Jungle… whatever) is a Kung Fu movie. So the killer is challenging the masters to duels (they can’t refuse) and killing them in combat. There’s some wire work. Some decent choreography. And the climactic fight, in the middle of a busy highway, is pretty bad-ass.

Donnie Yen in Kung Fu Killer

I had to suffer through the English dubbed version so I can’t comment on acting or dialogue as the voices aren’t usually the actors and the dialogue is shortened or lengthened to fit with the movement of the on-screen actors mouths.

Kung Fu Killer Prison Brawl

I hate that stuff with a passion. I prefer subtitles. The only time I don’t like subtitles is when I’m stoned. But this was what they sent me. A run-of-the-mill Kung Fu movie with a satisfying and well-choreographed final battle.

Rent it. (Bet ya didn’t see that coming)

Justice League: Gods and Monsters (Warner Home Video)


Directed by Sam Liu

Written by Alan Burnett and Bruce Timm

Starring Benjamin BrattMichael C. Hall & Tamara Taylor

In an alternate universe, Batman is a vampire, Zod’s son (and not Jor el’s son) becomes Superman and Wonder Woman is a murderer. But, you know, these are the good guys. Justice League: Gods and Monsters is a decent alternate universe story with familiar characters in much different roles. Enjoyable and compelling. Worth the hour and a half.


If you can find the three-part chronicles video shorts on You Tube, those are all interesting and serve to introduce the new anti-heroes quite well.

Rent it. (we’re on a roll now)

Hot Pursuit (Warner Bros. Pictures)


Directed by Anne Fletcher

Written by David Feeney & John Quaintance

Starring Reese Witherspoon & Sofía Vergara

Hot Pursuit is the worst movie I have ever seen in my long movie loving life.

Reese and Sofia

I refuse to say anything else about Hot Pursuit because that statement says it all. And I’m not kidding. It is the worst movie I have ever seen in my life. And I’ve seen a lot of bad movies. I’ve seen a lot of movies period. This movie is bad in every way a movie can be bad and then it invents new ways to be bad.

Skip it. (Burn it with fire and salt the earth)

Magic in the Moonlight (Sony Pictures Classics)


Written & Directed by Woody Allen

Starring Colin FirthEmma StoneHamish LinklaterMarcia Gay HardenJacki WeaverErica LeerhsenEileen Atkins & Simon McBurney

Magic in the Moonlight represents everything that is wrong with Woody Allen. From the age difference of the romantic leads to the absolute absence of any character who isn’t white. From the racist character played by Colin Firth, the inane romance, the bad story, The bad dialogue, the bad acting to the bad photography. From the early 20th century setting to the fact that he only uses it so he can whitewash the surroundings and play all the women as ditzy and portray overt racism.

magic in the moonlight

But Woody, my friend… Those times weren’t that white. The films made in those times were. Not the period itself. You’re a racist and (just this far from being) an incestuous pedophile and everybody knows it.


I used to be a big Woody Allen fan. I can’t say that any more. As he has gotten older, his creativity has waned and all that is left is sexist, racist, creepy Woody Allen. Sadly, the longer he continues to make films the more he tarnishes his early much better work.

Skip it. (Every fourth movie is watchable with Woody now)

And that’s all I got.

See what I mean… I told you I was having a bad summer.

But I’ll be back with a What’s Good later this week. Maybe that’ll get me out of this funk.


– Mel